Faculty Spotlight: Elizabeth Holmes

Improving a student’s reading, writing, and critical thinking abilities fuels Associate Professor Elizabeth Holmes’ passion for quality teaching and learning in the Transitional Studies area. She admits, "I've always had a soft spot for strugglers."

Elizabeth has established important connections with other divisions across the College to help maintain high academic rigor in all courses to help her students in Transitional Studies. She worked to ensure that students – particularly first-year students needing the most help – were aware of the resources and services across campus that are available to help them succeed academically.

During the 2018 academic year, while serving as interim chair of the Humanities division, Elizabeth visited Harford County high schools to meet with English, Journalism and Theatre classes to discuss the importance of the humanities. She addressed how the variety of skills learned in studying the humanities can help in developing career-enhancing life skills, along with non-cognitive skills such as empathy and acceptance of diversity.

Elizabeth discovered a unique outlet for her creative side that also promoted her mission to see her students succeed. She recognized an opportunity in the campus’ digital signage to feature encouraging student success messaging, pairing an engaging image with a suggested action to complete the statement “Success @ HCC is . . .” with such motivational sentiments as “Becoming Independent and Navigating Your Own Path,” “Being Resilient When You Hit an Academic Bump on Your Journey,” and “Connecting with One Person on Campus” to finish the thoughts.

In addition, she spearheaded the restructuring of Transitional English classes to meet the needs of her students and align with current trends in higher education. In particular, Elizabeth led the restructuring of the 3-credit English 012 Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), Basic Writing to a 1-credit Basic Writing course, English 019.  Students choosing to take English 101 and English 019 can now earn credit for both in one semester. Elizabeth also took the lead in incorporating technology into HCC's transitional courses so students can benefit from online grammar and reading skills tutorials, practices and quizzes. 

Elizabeth is currently serving a second term as the president and nine-year membership chair of the Mid-Atlantic Reading and Writing Association (MACRA), which focuses on providing support and professional development to professors in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. As president, she organizes its annual conference. As membership chair, she advertises the organization and keeps lines of communication open by editing and emailing the bi-monthly newsletter to the MACRA membership.

In her twelfth year at Harford – all in the Transitional Studies area – Elizabeth says, "My soft spot for strugglers is a natural. I was adopted, as were other members of my family and some of my friends. A lot of our students don’t have anyone to advocate for them, for whatever reasons. I've always gravitated to certain of these students, to be instrumental in their progress and witness their growth. You can see their transformation. I know they'll be the ones who go out into the community to help because they can relate to others’ struggles. They know how it feels."

Elizabeth Holmes exemplifies the depth of dedication, passion and accomplishment that can be found at Harford Community College, which is why she is featured as this month’s Faculty Spotlight. You are deeply appreciated, Elizabeth – keep up the amazing work!